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tv   Little Rock Central High 60th Anniversary of Integration  CSPAN  October 12, 2017 5:19am-7:32am EDT

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david valadez under george h.w. bush. >> if i say something about his hair and i take this photo and his hair looks nice, no one will ever believe that this wasn't set up. so i just took the photo, and wound up running two full pages in "life" magazine, and then over the next 20 years or so, it was in the "best of life" and "classic moments in life", and in 2011 it was selected in the issue, one of the best photo
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ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our distinguished guest for today's commemoration program. nancy ruso. michael moor r, superintendent
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of the little rock school district. the director of hutchins senter for african american research at harvard university. the honorable mark, mayor of the city of little rock. cameron shawly midwest regional director, national park service. the honorable asa hutchinson, governor of arkansas. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 42nd president of the united states, william jefferson clinton.
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[ applause ] ladies and gentlemen, please give a special welcome to the little rock nine. dr. patila bills. elizabe elizabeth egbert. earnest green. gloria ray, carlata renear. dr. terrence roberts.
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mini jane brown tricky. thelma mothershed, wier. and join us in remembering the late jefferson thomas. ladies and gentlemen, the little rock nine. [ applause ] please welcome to the podium our mc for today. an educator and community leader and the first african american to attend little rock central high school for 10 lth, 11th and 12th grades before graduating in
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1962. dr. civil jordan hampton. >> please be seated. thank you. good morning. welcome to this historic day. thank you to each of you who are here today. some have travelled from down the block and others have come from around the country and overseas. as i look out into this crowd i see many familiar faces, many long-time friends. i also see many new faces. no matter how far you travel to be here or how many people in this room you know, please know we are honored to have you here without you here in this audience the event would not be
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complete. you a key component of this commemoration ceremony. now please rise for the presentation of colors by the arkansas 31st air force junior rotc from little rock central high school. this will be followed by theall. this will be led by the student body presidents of each of little rock's school district's five high schools. aaron farmer of little rock central high school. shayla williams of jay a fair high school. muhammad malik, zihere love of john l. mcclellan high school, and catherine cullen of park view arts and science magnet high school. after the pledge pamela smith, director of communications for the little rock school district will sing the national anthem.
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i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands one nation under god indivisible
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with liberty and justice for all. ♪ ♪ o say, can you see by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's
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last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that
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star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ and the home of the brave? ♪
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our opening prayer will be given by dr. luvrn bell tolliver, pastor of cme church. good morning. i stand here first on behalf of the ua little rock and the members of bullet temper methodist church who enjoyed a rich one church, one school partnership with central high school. to the remaining members of the little rock nine i stand and thank you also on behalf of
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phase two of the desegregation process. the first 25 to deseg reigate the five junior high schools. i'm one of those. thank you for blazing the trail. lelt us bow before grace. god of our weary years, god of our silent tears thow who has brought us this far on the way, thow who has kept us forever in the path, we pray. father, as we approach you today we rejoice and say thank you. we remember how far you have brautd us. thank you, lord for allowing this curages group of former members, students known forever as the little rock 9 to willingly put on their armor as they fought injustice. we thank you for allowing their actions and those of others
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around this state and country to ultimately topple many of the laws that prevented equal access to books, equipment and schools that were not outdated or substandard. thank you also father for allowing them to be the forerunners of change and eradicators of jim crow laws that held our forparents in the cruel grip of post slavery times. now father we thank you for allowing this group present today to shine your clear pren traiting light on situations that continue to need enhancement. you know that our public schools still need improvement on many levels. allow us, father, to remain diligent and faithful. in the pursuing the cause for all students of every race, creed, color and gender with the
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opportunity to receive a quality public school education. help us remember the path for the purpose of building a brighter, stronger and more successful future together for every child. equip our family's faith can communities and public academicing institutions with the resources and willingness to work together to help every child succeed. we thank you and we praise you. in jesus name, amen. >> you may be seated. >> this is a room filled with dig nuitaries. we have current and former elected officials from federal, state and local government.
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we have heads of state agencies, higher education institutions, and churches. as well as civil rights leaders. also in the audience is a delegation from our sister city in new castle up on time, united kingdom. in the interest of time we're not going to recognize each person by name but to each and everyone of you and to all those gathered today, welcome. thank you for being here. i want to take this time to remember one who is not here. on september fifth, 2010, jefferson thomas passed away. we are honored to have his widow mary, here with us today. as a tribute to jeff we have an empty chair on the stage draped in a ribbon of centrals colors of old gold and black.
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please join me in a moment of silence for jefferson thomas's memory. thank you. as we move into the comments portion of our program, it is my distinct pleasure to bring forward two individuals who served as student body presidents of central high. both also served a decade ago as members of the 50th anniversary steering committee. she now works for the clinton foundation in new york city and he is an attorney and banker, who is a former member of the arkansas house of representatives. joy, student body president in 1993/94, and daren williams,
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student body president in 1985/86. let's welcome them. >> 60 years ago today the scene was much different in this auditorium and in the hallways of this school. yes, there are police officers and media and people milling about on this campus but as we now know the tone and tenner of the day was one of hostility, not hospitality. it was a day of anxiety and anger, not appreciation and applau applause. and elected officials were staying far away from campus, even if their presence was still felt. on behalf of all the little rock student body presidents over the years, darren and i are here to officially welcome everybody to this school, our beloved alma mater, where six decades ago destruction was the order of the
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day but now we celebrate a school where openness is the rule. >> this year little rock central high turns 90 years old. 10s of thousands of students have walked through these hallowed halls. each with a story to tell. as i look at seniors gathered on stage, i think of my own two students who are recent gradu e graduates of central. i'm honored to be a part of the story of this school. it's fitting we're in the roosevelt thompson auditorium with the little rock 9. rosy -- the experiences he had in then governor clinton's office and yale were feasible because of his time at central and the opportunities he had at central were made possible because of the curages efforts of the little rock 9. >> today over 27 languages are spoken that homes of central high students.
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regardless of our race or ethnicity, we all owe a debt of gratitude to little rock 9 and as abrams who is with us here today reminds us all we pay back debt through service. >> so welcome to little rock central high school. hail to the old gold, hail to the all black. thank you joy and daren. though president eisenhower had tried to broken an agreement with the govern through the efforts of congressman brooks hayes it was not until little rock mayor woodrow mann pleaded for federal intervention that the president sent in the 100 first airborne.
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i now present to you to bring greetings, the current mayor of little rock, mark. >> good morning everyone. thank you. you know today is a city and as americans, we pause to reflect on the events of september 25th, 1957, as one of the first struggles of the civil rights movement. we are here commemorating the 60th anniversary of the opening of these high school doors to nine young high school students who endured incredible adversity to integrate central high and the profound impact that it made and continues to make on the issues of equality and opportunity, not just on the city and the state, not just on this country but indeed on the world. we are here today to commemorate this extraordinary struggle for
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equality and opportunity and ultimate triumph in the history of urnation and in the history of our city. indeed when earnest green marched as a senior to receive his diploma in quigley stadium, the world noticed and dr. martin luther king was there to witness the occasion. today we acknowledge this painful moment in our past and we reflect on the progress that we have made. as was mentioned, we are sitting in the roosevelt thompson auditorium, named after one of little rock's most gifted african american students. a student body president and a yale scholar taken from us too soon but who accomplished so mump in his short life. a young man who was given an opportunity and did he ever excel. the legacy of the little rock 9 requires that we dedicate ourselves to the work that
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remains unfinished. i want to thank you little rock 9 for continuing to come back to little rock and commemorate this significant day. but it doesn't go unnoticed that most of you left little rock after your high school days and achieving meaningful and disti g distinguished careers and finding that opportunity wherever it existed. much of our work here in little rock centers on the idea of opportunity. how do we insure all our people have access to opportunity to pursue their dreams? recently i saw the film hidden figures based on the book about the african american female math metitians at nassau and it struck me it was set in 1961, four years after the events of the little rock central high school and seven years after the decision of brown verses board of education, the supreme court decision. and yet in 1961, virginia, the
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resistance to integration was rampant. however, three brilliant african american women at nassau, were given the opportunity to excel and in so doing served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history. the successful launch of astronaut john glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored our nation's confidence in ourselves and galvanized the world. that story, like the individual success stories of the little rock 9 exemplifies what people are capable of when given an opportunity. i can't help but think of the possibilities that could have transpired had the little rock 9 had the ability to accomplish the magnificent work they had achieved were it right here in little rock. how much are we missing out on by not presenting opportunities for our people to thrive right
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here at home? the stakes are incredibly high. and every time a child has run into this world, those continue to rise. how do we harness the potential of every child and person in our city? accomplishing that goal is incredibly complicated and it requires the involvement of every part of our community. it cannot be done by government alone. it requires a stable family structure, no matter how big or what that family looks like. early child hood education is key and graduation is paramount. health and proper nutrition are essential for learning. and so is the physical environment. work skills and a job. making more than a minimum wage play as huge role in a person's ability to maximize opportunity. as i reflect on the progress that we have made as a city, i recognize that while we have made great strides, we still have much work to do.
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at city hall these goals are what keep us going in the areas where we can help. it is why through the recovery act $8.6 million was injected into the neighborhoods south of interstate 630. over 100 housing units were created in the very neighborhoods right here around central high. it's why each year people become world changers and in the course of two weeks transformed the homes of elderly citizens in fixed incomes in the most challenging neighborhoods. it's why this friday thanks to the americorps program will launch the neighborhood safety core where we will have 30 young people working year round, cleaning up the hot spots in our city prone to crime. it's why, through our multiple felony reentry programs, we're giving people a second chance. but i will be the first to say there is so much more for us to do. but as much as anything,
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accomplishing this goal requires being given an opportunity. because we have seen that given an opportunity our people can overcome almost any challenge. so my challenge to all of us, to our city today is to use the examples set by the little rock 9 and share the opportunities you have been given. there is much work to do. do not pull up the ladder behind you. mentor a child, encourage education and success. help a young adult getting a job and getting into the work force. give them that first opportunity to learn responsibility and self respect. use the opportunities that you have been given and that degree, high school or college that you've earned to give back and to help the next generation of leaders in our city. the central high crisis of 1957 is part of our history. but it does not have to be our
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legacy. our legacy is the story of how far we have come in the resolve to finish the unfinished business of opening the doors to opportunity. indeed the legacy of the little rock nooicine requires it. so let's take this is reflective day as a springboard to dedicating our selves to the mission. seize the day, seize the opportunity. our future depends on it. thank you very much. through the efforts of u.s. senators dale bumpers and tim hutchinson, along with congressman vic snider, little rock central high was declared a nation al historic site. that legislation was signed into law by president bill clinton. central high school is the only national park site that is also
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a functioning high school. representing the national park service today is mr. cameron shawly, the midwest regional director of the national park service. welcome. >> morning. it's great to be in a room filled with so many generations of inspiring people. and before i get started, a special shout out to nancy rue so. she's such a tremendous partner, it's been incredible. thanks to the school district and the city for having us here. on behalf of the entire national park service, including robin white who is the superintendent and her tremendous team, we're so proud to be a part of this event with you commemorating this important anniversary. and not just as an organization committed to telling the history of the site in perpetuity but as
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your partner and fellow citizens. the national park service proudly manages a system of parks in this country that represent a remarkable collection of places that inshrine our nation's enduring principals and remind us of consequences of those like the little rock 9 have made on behalf of this country and it really is our privilege as your steward to protect some of ameri america's most incredible places and to tell america's most historical events. it's an honor we take very seriously. little rock central high school is all of those things. an incredible place with incredible people and it's a very important part of our nation's history. as all of us know there are parts of that had history that are not easy to talk about.
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stories that are very painful and difficult to tell. but it's essential that we tell them and that we do it in a way that keeps them in the forefront of the american conscious. that we translate the lessons and the sacrifices of the past into the dialogue of the present and the future. events that occurred here 60 years ago truly transformed america into a better country. they contributed so important lay to the national civil rights movement. it really forced our nation to look in the mirror and face its own image. and while the conflict between the federal and the state government occurred out in public, the real battle was here. in this building and these classrooms. weighing on the shoulders of nine young american students who were literally serving as
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ambassadors of change and moral curage. when little rock central high school historical site was established by the u.s. congress and president bill clinton. thank you, sir. that effort insured that events that transpired here will never fade into history. that legislation also allowed the national park service, proudly, to working with you to be a perpetual guardian of the historical events that occurred here. and though no one will fully understand what the little rock 9 experienced here, because this site is a national park unit and because of so many of your efforts and support, over a million americans already have and millions of americans in the future will have the opportunity
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to better understand the extreme hardships they endured, become educated as to how the curage a bravery changed the course of history forever and there's no question that this site has become more and more relevant to our nation as time has gone on. not just to the american people, but to the american dialogue. it is continually allowed us to provoke refleks in history, share our past and has created a better awareness of our nation's struggles towards equality. as your steward and partner of this great place and its important story, we remain more committed than ever of helping tell the events here accurately and in perpetuity for the benefit, education and inspiration of both current and future generations. everyone of you in this room in
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one way or another exemplifies the perseverance of the american spirit. but no group more so than these pioneers of civil rights that we're commemorating here today. to those incredible pioneers and their families, thank you for your sacrifices and know that it will be remembered here forever. that you're an inspiration to our country and to all of you, the national park service is very proud to be your partner here. thank you. [ applause ] >> 60 years ago the office of the governor of arkansas worked to keep the it little rock 9 out
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of the school. times have certainly changed. in 1987, 1997, and 2007 governs bill clinton, mike huckabee and mike be be embraced the little rock 9 just as his immediate predecessors have honored the little rock 9, today it is my plesher to introduce the current governor to welcome them. governor asa hutchinson. ♪ [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you. good morning, president clinton, mayor and those of the little
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rock 9 with us today. dr. melba, tilo beales, elizabeth ecford, gloria ray, carlata, dr. terrence roberts, mini gene brown, mini jean brown tricky and thelma mothershed wear. i wanted to tell you how much i enjoyed our visit before the ceremony today. we are gathered here today so that our state and nation will never forget the curage, fortitude and persistence you s showed the world 60 years ago. the events of that fall day changed the path of a nation. yes, the bravery of youth inspired hope for all whose dreams have been crushed by an unfair system. a system that failed to change with deliberate speed.
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your quiet determination and your stubborn refusal to abandoned your dreams not only forced action but set an example that will last into the ages. whether you witnessed the events in person. or like me you studied and reflected on that moment in history from distance, we are all equally challenged, motivated and grateful for those who said we can do it. because it is right and because it is just. in 1957, of course, we know what the makeup of central high student body was. because of you, the student body of the class of 2018 looks different. your enrollment comprised of students from 27 countries who speak a total of 24 languages. it is important to remember that little rock central was integrated six years before reverend martin luther king gave
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his landmark "i have a dream" speech on the steps of the lincoln memorial. it is a significant historical fact that a young reverend king was quietly in the audience when earnest green walked across the podium to become the first african american graduate of central high. perhaps -- [ applause ] perhaps reverend king was propelled by that moment to fully see the potential of his own dreams. and perhaps he got a glimpse of the mountain top where all of god's children are created equal. the integration of central high was so early in the civil rights movement, it was before many of the counter sit-ins, before the bus rides and that fact gives us all an even greater appreciation
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for the lonely steps of the little rock 9 as they confronted hostility, the unknown and a defiant governor. on this 60th anniversary, what can we draw upon to guide us today? we should never, first of all, undervalue the transsendant importance of how we treat each other. let's seek understanding. live each day with words of encouragement and compassion and let's pray and work for more civil society. those students of central high who resisted a mob mentality and hysteria and acted in kindness to little rock 9 are additional examples to us all. there's also a lesson for our nation. we are all made in god's image and america cannot fulfill its destiny if it we limit any person was dreams because of how one is born. we all part of the fabric of this nation and we hope our
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greatness will be defined by our goodness. but there is another lesson just as our ancestors and history do not define our values, in the same sense the victories, sacrificially won by the little rock nine do not guarantee equal opportunity or freedom from discrimination for this generation or the next. whether it is revisiting the lessons of history or sounding the alarm about current dangers, we must be constant in educating the present generation about tolerance, forgiveness, and equal treatment. finally i want to thank the little rock 9 for enduring the pain. there's no other word to describe your experience 60 years ago. but we are grateful as a state and nation. for the difference you made for all of us. arkansas claims you as pioneers,
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heroes, and examples to follow. thank you and may god have his continued blessing on the little rock 9. [ applause ] >> we are honored to have with us today dr. henry lewis gates jr. dr. gates is the alfaunz fletcher university professor and director of the hutchins center for african and african american research at harvard university. he is not just a historical scholar and educator, as many of you know he is an emmy winning film maker. literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution
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builder. dr. gates has authored or co authored 21 books and created 15 documentary films. the university of central arkansas has been collaborating with him and brought him to little rock for this weekend. we are pleased to have him join us today to bring remarks setting the occasion. ladies and gentlemen, let us welcome dr. henry lewis gates jr. >> thank you, thank you. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much for that kind introduction. mr. president, governor hutchinson, congressman hill, i
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feel like i'm visiting a religious shrine. i first saw this in september, 1957 after i had just turned 7 years old and i never dreamed ever that i would be standing here at the auditorium of this great high school. and if this is a shrine, ladies and gentlemen, these are the saints that we are here to honor. [ applause ] dr. benjamin maze, of course a spiritual mentor to the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. and president of the venerable moorehouse college said and i quote we are interlaced and interwoven in a garment of destiny. we're all bound together in one great humanity.
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we as americans find ourselves bound together in one great humanity at the intersections of had history and place, no more so, ladies and gentlemen, than here in little rock, arkansas. i was 4 years old when the supreme court ruled in brown v board that separate was inherently unequal. i was 6 when the naacp filed suit against the little rock school district on behalf of 33 african american students who had attempted to register in all white schools only to be rebuffed. and i was seven when arkansas govern, oroville eugene faubs, defied a federal court order and when a young african american woman, elizabeth ecfort, cradling her books and wearing that white dress and those dark sunglasses encountered a furious mob of taunts and lynching threats.
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when president eisenhower ordered the 101st which had fought so valently on d' day and the little rock 9 to walk in this school and quiet dignity at last through the front door of central high school. history is on your side, dr. king telegrammed black leaders as he, like the rest of us, watched the events unfold before our very eyes on television. world opinion is with you, he wrote. the moral conscience of millions of white americans is with you. and keep struggling with this fate and the tragic mob rule which encompasses your city at this time will be transformed into the glowing day break of freedom and justice. 60 years after the democratic
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rec revolution that happened here in your town in this school embodied by nine exceedingly brave school children. ladies and gentlemen, we once again find ourselves in a struggle for freedom and justice in our land. at this moment unimaginable for most of us just a year ago we, those of us who love truth and justice beyond political party, have to draw a line in the sand. as they drew a line in the sand 60 years ago here. then as now we must defend the right of every american to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. [ applause ] we must, at all cost defend the affirmative action programs that launched so many people of color and women of color into their position of power. [ applause ]
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we must fight for health care as a right and to keep -- [ applause ] -- and to keep the pipeline of opportunity open for the next generation and the next generation after that. regardless of our ideological differences, we must link arms and stand publicly against anti-semitism, against homophobia, against islamaphobia. [ applause ] against antiblack racism and against white supremacist ideology and all of its ugly, hateful forms.
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the little rock nine stood then and they stand now. for the promise of opportunity and equality etched in the words of our country's founding documents. they also stand for the work and the struggle it took to realize those words for all of our nation's citizens. if my friend, president bill clinton observed so eloquently here on the 40th anniversary of a the little rock 9, 1997 and i quote "40 years later we know there's still more doors to be opened, doors to be opened wider, doors we have to keep from ever being shut again." and remarks that really prauficize this moment, president clinton exorted us to do better that day.
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[ laughter] >> sorry about that. you know what i feel like the local band doing the warm up before beatles come on. i'm just a poor black man doing my best, sir. we know that work is not over. we cannot allow forces of reaction to turn back the clock on american racial relations. obliterating the heroic efforts of legions of americans, white, black, jewish, muslim, christian, gay, straight and transwho risked and sometimes gave their lives to make sure that the arc of the moral universe bent towards justice.
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too many hands today, ladies and gentlemen, are trying to bend that arc back in another direction, a direction towards the past. and those of us who love truth and justice, those of us who love the principals of democracy upon which this great nation of ours was founded must stand against those forces just as the little rock 9 did here in this very place. if we hold firm to our moral conscience and to our faith, to our shared history and to the possibilities it secured for us. the tragic midnights of our time will be transformed into the glowing day break of freedom and justice. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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>> in his geties burg address, abraham lincoln said and i quote the world will little note nor long remember what we say here but it can never forget what they did here end of quote. time will be the judge as to whether what is said here today gets remembered. but what is indisputable is rock nine did here at this school 60 years ago today. the world does indeed remember thelma, terrance, minnijean,
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jefferson, gloria, ernest, elizabeth, and carlotta. they have been immortalized not just in our memories, but in photographs, movies, songs, plays, paintings and a postage stamp. we now turn to a time in the program to give each of the eight living members the chance to share remarks with us. but before they do, it is important to remember that the little rock 9 did not act alone. they had the support and sacrifice of their parents, their grandparents, their siblings and other family members. we have some of those family members with us today. let us give them a round of applause. [ applause ]
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there was also the tireless work of l.c. and daisy bates. as well as chris mercer in arkansas, as well as thurgood marshall and the naacp. there were ministers, friends and neighbors. the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. was present for ernest's graduation at quigley stadium in may 1958. yes, they received support but each day, it was still nine teenagers who went into the school. today we hear from eight of them, not quite teenagers anymore, but still full of the same spirit and drive. [ applause ]
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>> dr. melba pattillo beals. >> well, good morning. >> good morning. >> how wonderful you would take time so early in the morning to get up and come and stand with us and remember us. we are very grateful for your presence. and let us not ever, ever indicate to you that we got here or that we made it through that year at central high school on our own steam. first of all, there was the steam of the lord jesus who directs me every moment of every day i breathe. [ applause ] my mother always said to me, god has a picture of you on his refrigerator. he is as close to you as your skin. and certainly making it through central high school took a whole
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combination of elements, one i believe that the lorge jesus concocted. first of all. >> not all the white people at central high school were not nasty. a lot of them were lovely people. they were with us as we transitioned into this situation whereby not only the block, but the region the nation and all of us changed from what we were to what we are. it's a joy to come back to arkansas and see the love and it's a joy to see women policemen whose skin is all sorts of colors. it's such a joy for someone who has been away to see the miracle of love and change. and so i think thank you so much for that. and i really, really again want the say to you that you are all a part of this. all right. so we get to be the nine. and i enjoy signing things like my books and my pictures and whatever. but i always take you with me when i do that. namaste, the god in me cease always the god in you and
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everyone around us. love is the only answer. thank you. [ applause ] >> elizabeth eckford. >> i return to arkansas and my family in 1974. but i was not politically active. among the nine of us, none of us talked about what it was like inside this school for 30 years. i was prompted to start talking
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about it in 1999 when i heard reflections that were foreign to my experience here. i hope some day that opposing sides can have nonaccusatory dialogue. i have a saying that i believe deep in my heart, that the only way we can have true reconciliation is if we honestly acknowledge our painful but shared past. thank you. [ applause ]
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>> ernest green. >> thank you very much. to the organizers of all this. mr. president, governor, distinguished guests, skip gates, to the audience, central high school supporters and lovers, to my family, my wife phyllis, my daughters jessica and mackenzie, my sister triopia, nephews, and todd washington and scott green. i think none of us 60 years ago, as we arrived in the back of
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army jeeps, knew that we would be standing here today. making history is not something we aspired to do. we wanted the best education our parents' taxes afforded. we wanted what the constitution said the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, i saw education as part of that right. after september 4th when we were denied admittance, i did what my parents' family taught me. i dug in my heels. the bible says weeping endures for a night and joy comest in the morning. 250 days was a long night. recent cover of a local magazine said progress with a question mark.
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but i'd like to remove that question mark and instead say progression eellipsis. progress is not a sing action, a moment. it is the small, mundane, everyday action. some days within the national focus, other days with no more fanfare than a small thank you. progress is like water to torture on the unrelenting enemy of stagnancy and complacency. initially it feels like nothing more than tiny droplets of water, after a while it beats away at hate not as the rushing water, but still as seemingly small droplets. progress has to continue because there is no finish line. emmett till in charlottesville protesting nazis.
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muhammed ali turns to colin kaepernick takes a knee for injustice. [ applause ] and the little rock nine turns to the charleston nine, paying the ultimate sacrifice for peacefully assembling in a church for bible study in the african methodist episcopal church. this scares many because of its proud heritage. you know, we need young lawyers ready to follow wally branton sr. and thurgood marshall. we need community activists and church leaders like daisy and l.c. bates to continue to engage and challenge our public officials. [ applause ] we need parents and caregivers who actively engage in the
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education of their children like lothair scott green and all the parents of the nine. and i want our children to know that they have a continued role in this marathon to progress. be prepared to take up the mantle of the little rock nine, malala yousufzai and realize that education is the key to upwardabiliu upward mobility. i may have been the first to graduate but i didn't cross this stage by myself. i crossed that stage for my eight compatriots over here. thelma, minnijean brown, tricky, jefferson, gloria ray, karlmark, and terrance roberts. they still had graduation on the horizon. and regardless of where they graduated from school, the victory was still theirs.
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as i crossed that stage and accepted that diploma for the next 800, 8,000, 8 million that will follow, i've learned that in the 60 years since central, there are different paths in life one can take. there are worn paths. there are faint paths there are even random paths that don't follow anything. know that these paths were worn in not by one person, not by nine people, but by generations of people following scattered foot press left by someone else. but also know that the errant foot press follow no path at all may intrigue someone else to follow a path not yet forged. no, it won't be easy, and it wouldn't happen overnight. but as my sister has told me as
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many follow, a path will wear into a permanent reminder of someone else's initial steps. to the tigers, black and gold, god bless each of you. [ applause ] >> gloria ray karlmark. >> i never thought i would stand here. i can't really say i feel comfortable being here. but i am here, and it feels pretty good. you know, people ask us,
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and especially me, a lot about the first day at central high school. but my daughter reminded me the other day of another thing that she knew about me. she suggested that i talk to you today about the last day of school. because nobody ever asks about that. you know what kind of a year we had. you've got the general idea of it. but on the last day of school, they handed out the year books. and i remember getting my yearbook. and that presented another situation for me, quite different from the others. i had my book, and i knew that people signed each other's books. but there i was this now 15-year-old little girl.
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and who was going to sign my book. who would i dare go up to and ask to sign my book. so i stood there for a while with my book open. and then becky, the girl i had secretly exchanged notes with in one class, she came up and signed my book. and i felt a bit of a release. at least i had one signature in my book. then another girl came and signed my book. she wrote, "in a different age, we could have been friends." thank you [ applause ]
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>> carlotta walls-lanier. [ applause ] >> thank you and good morning. >> good morning. >> president clinton, to the governor of arkansas, hutchison, and the mayor of little rock and all the other distinguished guests here on this stage, thank you for being here, actually. i was asked about a year and a half ago by the city manager what would we like for the 60th anniversary. give them some ideas.
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they already had ideas of what was going to take place. and i want to be very honest and clear with you. i said to him, i would like to have dinner in the white house with president hillary clinton. [ applause ] but this is the second best, being here. 1957 on the day we commemorate here this weekend, september 25th, we went as teenagers, anxious and worried that we had missed over two weeks of school. we didn't know what the day would hold or what would happen in the year ahead. we didn't realize the goal that
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the governor would play, sometimes behind the scene in our high school experience. 1987, 30 years later, all of us came back for the first time. the first time we had seen each other as a group. it was governor clinton welcome us into the governor's mansion. hillary clinton, who had been under the weather, came down to the kitchen, and we talked into the early hours of the morning with our other friend who was mayor of little rock, lottie shackelford. 1997, 40 years later, governor clinton was now president clinton. and the welcome the little rock nine had was overwhelming and kind and gracious.
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it was well meaning and heartfelt. it was time, it seemed, to set things aright. 2007, 50 years later, all of us are still together as the little rock nine. we had grown older, but we all had made it. we had children, grandchildren, and each of us successful in our own ways in the worlds in which we lived. and it was give back time. 10 years after the 40th anniversary, we had set up the little rock nine foundation. one that would support young high school students as they made their next step toward higher education. we were happy to see each other. happy to call one another friend. happy to have shared important moments in history with one another and with a nation that honored us.
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we had a place in the modern civil rights movement. something we never sought, but was granted to us. that congressional gold medal prior to that. 2017, 60 years later, we return to little rock, to central high as senior citizens. one of us is missing now, our friend jefferson thomas, because his right to speak his name allowed. he was the one with the engaging sense of humor. and we miss him in these days. only my mother, juanita walls, remains. and she is here with my family, my husband, my two children, and
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my grandchildren, four generations, along with my siblings tina walls and lawana terry. [ applause ] thank you for that. and today we have number 45, who behind the scenes and through his twitter accounts, we become as we were 60 years ago, anxious and worried and concerned about what lies ahead. this weekend and in the year ahead, we know these things, though. as a human race, we are strong people. and in the words of the old negro spiritual, we have come too far to turn back now. [ applause ]
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>> well, that's okay. it's okay. there's one more thing. just one more thing. just one more thing. we all like to say have a good day. but i say to you, have a day that matters. [ applause ] >> dr. terence roberts. [ applause ] >> in the name of full disclosure, it's important that you know i come here not to celebrate.
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not that i don't want to celebrate, but that time has not yet come. [ applause ] you see, for me, the balloons are in the closet. the confetti is stored away. the noise makers in every variety you can imagine are waiting to make their noise. it's been a 75-year wait for me. for most of those 75 years, i have been aware consciously of a need for real change. but there is something you should know about my vision. for those of you who have urged me to celebrate progress, i say look at it from my perspective. first, for what i want is for none of this ever to have happened. that said, i have a new vision that shows me what could possibly be. but it can't happen. i can't do it alone. we all have to engage in this war against the forces that are
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determined to shore up and maintain the status quo. that's not feasible. how can we do that? you can decide to choose to live a life that's different than the life you've thus far chosen to live. i don't make the assumption that everyone here shares my vision. but i do make the assumption you are willing to investigate the options as you become aware of them. and why aren't you aware of them? by choice. you have chosen. you see, willful ignorance is one of the most deadly sins that we face. [ applause ] if you are willing to move away from that position and take a more balanced position, i think i have a chance to see what i need to see. how can it happen? for those of you in the audience who are professed christians, i
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speak now directly to you. one, you have a bible. some of you may not know that the bible is simply an acronym. basic instruction before leaving earth. since we don't know the exact date of our exit from this place, it is imperative that you read the instructions now. and as you do, you will find in there admonitions to treat your brother and your sister as you would treat yourself. [ applause ] i can't imagine given the history of this country, that those of you who are professed christians would want that to continue. i was told and i mentioned this in the interfaith service the other night, i was told by a minister in this very town that
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i had no business being at central. i don't know if he was reading the same bible i had. i went back home to look at the passage, to see where he got that information. i have yet to find it. my understanding is that we christians care enough to confront. when you care enough to confront you get in other people's faces. it's not about being combative. it is about loving care. you see, if you have a child, and that child has a penchant for playing near the offramp, you will confront that child. you will take measures, you will use every instrument possible to maintain the safety and well-being of that child. think about it that way. treat me as your child. help us all to move away from this nefarious status quo into the brighter light of understanding where we truly see each other as god sees us all. thank you. [ applause ]
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>> minnijean brown tricky. >> thank you, everyone. you know, i really like to be on stage with really illustrious people. greetings. thanks to the city and all the people. thank you, melissa. thank you, everyone. now, i have one-third of my children here, isaiah in spirit. i have my sister. i found her when she spoke out, as she usually does.
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there's nothing like the brown sisters. so i consider this experience, this 60th commemoration as a pilgrimage. and i looked up the definition which says a pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. typically a journey to a shrine or other location of importance. and here i am. and here we are. so we come here, i think, to remind ourselves and the world that the work is not complete until a beloved community is achieved. la la. okay.
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also, when i'm standing in a place of such significance and remember that i was fired in the heat of little rock central high school, there's no forgetting. so i and the rest of us in many different ways will continue our activism. we come here to catalyze, to stimulate the conversation that needs to happen here, there, and every place else. now i'm going to tell you what happened. i did accuse number 40 whatever of suffering from -- it's my phrase, #profoundintentional ignorance. [ applause ] and i said it on television.
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so i expect my tweet a little later today. so, astrophysicists -- okay, yeah, i'm sorry. #profoundintentional ignorance. dr. tyson says we're really close to the unraffling of an informed democracy. we have to think about that. we're in a place of education. the theme of the little rock central high school national historic site is, it's about education. and it always is about education. it was then and ever shall be about education. so i'm hoping -- and we're not stupid, the little rock nine. we know what's going on in this town, as marvin gaye said.
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okay, who knows about marvin gaye? okay. so we're here to remind ourselves and you and we hope we can inspire young people. remember, we're 14, 15, and just turning 16. so we want to inspire the young people. and elizabeth coined this phrase. "don't think of us as special because we're ordinary people. but ordinary people can do extraordinary things." and we're proof of that. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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>> giving remarks on behalf of thelma mothershed wair. please welcome her son, gabriel wair. >> good morning, everybody. >> good morning. >> good morning president clinton, dignitary, family, and friends. my name is gabriel wair, and i'm more than honored to speak on behalf of my grandmother, beautiful grandmother, thelma shedd wair. >> it has been many years since i entered this historical building, and i did so today with a sense of anticipation and hope for the future of those educated here and other facilities throughout the state. the year i spent here was filled with uncertainty, mostly related to safety. fortunately, other than verbal and certainly psychological
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issues, i experienced no physical harm. the year since -- the years i've seen my continued growth and experience in education as a teacher and counselor. i gained a lot from my students and hope the same can be said in return. my hope is that arkansas will continue to experience the spread of integration and embrace people of different ethnicities and beliefs. i would also like to add that the proliferation of charter schools has given us a cause for the concern for the future of conventional public education. [ applause ] we do not want these schools to become centers for those students who perform below educational standards. we must continue to be involved and vigilant for the education of all of our children for whom our futures depend. thank you for your time and
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attention. [ applause ] >> let us say thank you again to each of the little rock nine. [ applause ] to introduce our keynote speaker, it is my pleasure and honor to bring to the podium the woman who knows every inch of this school and who owns it. nancy rousseau has been principal of little rock high school since the summer of 2002. as principal she thinks about central high school each day. i suspect that every day she is
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in little rock where the school is in session or not, she spends time at the school or at school related functions. nancy is an ambassador for little rock central high school, its students, its alumni and the entire city of little rock. she is one of a few people who has worked on the 40th anniversary, 50th anniversary and now the 60th anniversary commemorations. join me in welcoming the principal nancy rousseau. [ applause ] >> thank you. how in the world do you introduce bill clinton to a room full of people who not only know who he is but actually know him?
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although i find it hard to believe as i thought about it that the majority of these students were born after he left the white house. sorry. it's true. as a student in hot springs, bill clinton saw the little rock nine bravely face the mobs while watching them on television. probably black and white television. definitely. he has credited that experience with expanding his world view. in 1987 as was mentioned, the then little rock mayor lottie shackelford welcomed all nine to little rock. bill clinton as governor gave the nine the tour of the governor's mansion.
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as president in '97, he not only spoke at the ceremony, but he along with governor huckabee and then mayor jim daily opened the doors as they did, majestic doors of central high school for the little rock nine to enter. ten years ago, boy, that went quickly, he again spoke, this time as our former president. during the 50th anniversary events, he also hosted the little rock nine for a viewing of the emancipation proclamation which was on exhibit at the time at the clinton presidential center. as previously mentioned, president clinton signed the legislation which made little rock central high school a national historic site. this is a partnership that -- about which we are so proud. and enjoy every single day as people from all over the world walk our halls along with our students to see our historic school.
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as president, he presented each of the little rock nine with the congressional medal of honor in a ceremony at the white house. he also spoke at the memorial service for daisy bates. the list of his connections to this school and to the little rock nine goes on and on and on. in fact, in the summer of 2016, he and some of the members of the little rock nine joined me and a few hundred other people in the basement of central high school during a tornado warning. the tornado warning turned out to be a major weather event with part of our roof being torn away and 2000 classrooms being destroyed. as central high school's very proud principal, i'm going to take a moment of personal privilege to say thank you.
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thank you for all you have done for this school. your life and career are the embodiment of the four statues which adorn the front of our school and have looked out upon 90 years of history. ambition, personality, opportunity, and preparation. now ladies and gentlemen, and my children behind me, it gives me great honor to say would you help me and please welcome to the podium the 42nd president of the united states, william jefferson clinton. [ applause ] >> thank you. oh, thank you very much. thank you. thank you. thank you.
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thank you. first of all, thank you madam principal for your leadership of in some ways most important high school in the united states. thank you superintendent, thank to the park service for taking good care of us. thank you, dr. jordan for demonstrating just by the way you talk how dumb it was to deny so many african americans the opportunity of a decent education for so long. you're an inspiration. i thank all of you who came.
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happy birthday, annie abrams. governor tucker, thank you secretary slater. thank you for all you did for our country. i want to thank you, whoever did the program, for letting darren and joy speak for they are the true heirs of what was done here 60 years ago. and from one of them i benefit every single day. i want to thank melba and elizabeth and ernie and gloria and terrence and minnijean and thelma and two who are not here, jeff and daisy bates. we miss them both.
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i -- god, they were wonderful, weren't they? and i want to thank my old friend who was introduced as dr. henry louis gates. but if you want to laugh about the aging process, which trust me is not for sissies, when i saw him coming up here with his crutches, i thought how cute. why? because of his friends call him skip. and then he took the pink elephant out of the closet so the rest of us could talk. this is also the 40th anniversary this year of my first speech as a public official, and it's got a lot in common with today. i spoke at the rotary club
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installation banquet in pine bluff. there were 500 people there. there were 25 speakers. by the time i got up to speak, half the people were hungry again. and the guy who introduced me, had run the campaign down here for me, and he was more nervous than i was. i was a young attorney general. and he got up and said, you know, we can stop here and had a very good evening. now what he meant was all of was the best was yet to come. but what it sounded like was the truth. please, i want to go home. but i thank them all. i thank this group for letting me be a part of their lives. for sharing their true feelings.
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for giving us each in their own way the true meaning of what we're here about. i wanted to come here and reminisce. i was here for the 20th anniversary. not even all of them were. and jesse jackson and i were on this stage. and he told the students of little rock central high because america was facing a big drug epidemic then too, like this awful opioid epidemic today and heroin and fentanyl and the whole deal, that they should open their brains and not their veins. i say that because he, too, is aging. and not in the best shape today. but we should never forget that long before it was popular, he called on people to develop their minds and do their work so they could claim their legitimate place in america.
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skip gates in his other life has a tv show. have you all ever seen it? you seen his show? and he traces our lineage. shows governor hutchison may be related to john brown. king george iii or god only knows who. but it's important. i want to start there. what does all that they say amount to? what was the pink elephant in the closet that skip dug out? by tracing people's genetic lineage, you find out almost no black people are all black. and almost zero
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african-americans and maybe there's not a single one whose entire lineage comes from people from subsaharan africa. and almost no white people are all white either. unless all of your ancestors are from subsaharan africa, less than 3% of your genome, are from the neanderthals. that's the part that is rearing its ugly head lately. now look, ever since i've been out of office, i've been doing these crazy things. i make -- i have this endlessly amended bucket list and one things i wanted to do was understand genomics, particle
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physics and astro physics. but i really wanted genomics because i spent $3 million of your tax money to sequence the human jet stream money. and now you can do it for $300. and it's given us more than $300 billion in economic activity. so it's the best investment of your tax money ever made, and a good reminder that you get a big return when you invest in modernizing infrastructure and science and technology as well. so anyway, so i keep reading all these articles. one day i read that, you know, our human ancestors first rose up on the east african savannah between 250,000 years ago and it took 90 to 100,000 years to get all the way into north africa and then to the middle east and europe. and for 40,000 years after that
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we coinhabited europe with the neanderthals. it surgeons out we liked each other better than we knew. but they were bigger than us. they were stronger than we are. their brains were just as big but for reasons no one fully knows, as far as we can determine, they never wrote a book or a poem or spoke to each other in traditional ways. but it appears that they didn't survive the last era of really big mammals, and we did. perhaps because we could run faster, but in all probability because we could communicate and we could cooperate.
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great biologist e.o. wilson says that the greatest cooperators are the most likely to survive. and the best species that have ever lived for cooperation were ant, termite, bees and people. all the people of the presidential center make fun of me. well just had that great exhibit where you could see all my cooperators. but it's true. when we had the tsunami in south asia, cooperative instinctive patterns of animals saved a bunch of them when people were killed. in south america, there are termites that only drill air conditioned housing. i'm going to tell what you that has to do with all this. i want you to think. five holes in their living quarters, they go in and out of one. the rest of them are all air conditioning. when it's going to rain, they know it and they stay out so they don't drown.
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bees pollinate 96% of all the food human beings consume. you should really worry that a lot of the bees are dying now because of environmental and chemical conditions beyond their control. the combined weights of ants on earth exceeds the combined weight of people on earth. the most touching nonhuman picture i saw from the awful devastation of harvey in the gulf coast and in houston was this gushing water in what had been a city street and on it this massive blob of fire ants. must have been 100,000 or more of them. and those at the bottom sacrificed themselves so that they could glue themselves together and they would all survive by floating away to freedom.
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but we can do more of that. i wanted to stand up and say a lot of simple bromides about that and make everybody feel good and tell them i love them and sit down. but then we had all this stuff happening that other people have talked about. so i wanted to say you did 60 years. take a victory lap. put on your dancing shoes. have a good time. but instead i have to say you got to put on your marching boots and lead us again.
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this is not a partisan issue. abraham lincoln gave his life to hold the union together and to pass the 13th amendment, ending slavery everywhere. ulysses grant, a great my misunderstood and underrated figure in our history, not just as a general but as president, gave us the 15th amendment, the right to vote, which he said was the most important thing that had happened since the founding of the united states of america. and last time i was here on this stage was with george w. bush. because our leadership scholars program takes turn doing our
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graduation where his library is and where mine is but we get 60 people every year equally divided by party, representative of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, you name it. they come together and they go to his father's library, the lbj library, his, and ours here, and study some decision at each place together. and they talk about it together. and these are people who readily admit that in the world we live in they would never have met each other had it not been for this program. and they study these decisions and then they discuss how they ought to be made when they agree on the end. and lo and behold, they find out there is really something to the most important study about
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behind the science that makes skip gates' program so fascinating, which is that we're all 99.5% the same genomecally. every nonage related difference can you see in the audience is half in your gemone. we're now living in a world where we're going back and revisiting the original questions of this country and the original things that tore this country apart in the south civil rights movement, which is basically whether all that matters is what's is in that half a percent. it's bad enough that every single one of us for reasons of personal vanity spend 99.5% of our time thinking about the .5% of ourselves that are different, don't we? wish i were a little taller. i had lebron james' body, i would have gone in a different line of work. if i could have played a
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saxophone like john coltrane, i would have gone in a different line of work. you got it. we all spend all this time. bad enough we do that. now we're back to square one. that's all that matters. back to tribalism. and it's sweeping the world. it is entirely understandable and i think was entirely predictable. anybody who didn't see it coming wasn't out there in 2014 and 2013 like i was. but when you have people who feel that they've been passed by economically, socially, culturally and politically and they're fed a steady diet of resentment, and they don't ever meet anybody different from them or talk to anybody, then that's
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the core of it. and all you need is a little leaving. people get careless about whether they vote at midterm. people read this, that and the other thing. pretty soon somebody else says well, you can have your resentment. i want my resentment. my resentment is more authentic than your resentment. let's fight about whose resentment is the most authentic. pretty soon somebody trying to keep from you voting. or just erasing you from the polls with some app, not subject to review. pretty soon another country thinks these people are so messed up, so torn up and so full of their resentment, i'll mess with their heads. isn't the internet wonderful? the answer is, yes and no.
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the answer to everything links to yes and no. that's why democracy requires diversity and debate. there are almost no -- there are almost no unmixed blessings. i don't think that they ever wanted to go to little rock central high school. and get a good education and have a good life so that one day they could be in control of everybody that didn't look like them and squeeze them by the neck until they couldn't breathe. i think they wanted to be part of america. part of a world. to be full the way god meant us all to be. you can't do that if all you
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think about is that .5% difference. you can't do that if you ignore the plain teaching of every faith that nobody is all wise and right all the time. and every religion says in one way or the other, after the love of god the most important thing is to love your neighbor. so all the clever people who want to divide us say yeah, what is the definition of neighbor? they do not remember the parable of the good samaritan, and that the samaritan was generally not thought to be the neighbor of the israelites. there are still 200,000 of them today in the middle east, and they're in danger, like every other small religion there.
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they're not people who in the name of their perfect knowledge and will of god want to squish them because it makes them feel good to hurt somebody else. the torah says he who turns aside a stranger might as well turn away from the most high god. the koran says allah put different people on the earth, not that they might despise one another, but that they might come to know one another and learn from one another. the damapata of the buddha says that you're not really alive unless you can feel the arrow piercing another person's body as if it were entering your own. [ applause ] what is the matter with us? i heard that rally down in
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alabama, and i thought about oh my god, i got to come look at the little rock nine. and they're down there talking in ways that you hadn't heard since george corley wallace was the governor of alabama. and again, they forgot the history. wallace was the first guy who thought oh, i can get white folks all over america to vote just like they do here. i just got to get them torn up and upset enough. got to fill them with resentment got to stop people thinking. they forgotten i knew george wallace in the last years of his life, and we served as governors. i remember when he apologized to the people of alabama for fanning the flames of racial fl hatred and discrimination. and asked the african merps to forgive him. and promised to serve them all. when his bullet ridden paralyzed body was so painful it toolk him two hours to get dressed every day. and got up two hours early to go
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to a governors meeting to protest new rules against aid for disabled coal miners and others who were being thrown off disability. i remember there was a truck driver with a ninth grade education who lost his arm in an accident who was cut off disability. because they said he could work as a telephone receptionist. george wallace got up out of bed to vote against that. he became reconcile to the fact we all had a place in america's design. we don't want to go back there, folks. we don't want to get into -- we don't want to get into my resentment more is authentic
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than yours. we want to look at skip gates program on television and fine out the funny things about our ancestors we never dreamed about. and say, wow, how dumb were any of us ever to deny any possibility to any american? i want these young people to have the brightest future ever offered to any generation. part of it you know is whether we can keep creating jobs in the face of robotics and artificial intelligence and all the changes that are going to happen. can we ever bring again the same economic opportunities to small town and rural america that they once had? i think the answer to both is yes. but it won't happen by feeding our resent wants.
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especially our resentment against immigrants. we native born americans remember three things. the birthrate among native born americans is now only at replacement level. that is we're not growing. the median age of a work force determines along with education level of the people and the investment level and growth. the prosperity of a country. having lost it i can tell you youth matters. when it comes -- it matters in a loft ways. it matters in economic potential. fact number two, the crime rate among immigrants including undocumented immigrants is 1 half the crime rate of native born. the small business formation rate is twice that of the native born.
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we should be worrying at our real problems and how we can solve them together. that would honor the little rock nine. and the lives they have lived in the work they have done. we have probably healthcare. yes. do we need to protect our border from people that use it to come many and hurt us? of course. are there national security questions we face simple? no. i'll tell you one thing, we're not going fwet from here to there by making people mad. we'll get tr here to there by providing what they got at little rock central high. 90 years ago when the school opened, it was somebody designated the most beautiful school building in america. 20 years after that, it's football team was designated the best high school football team.
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in america. not in the state. when i was a governor this one school regularly won 25 or po 30% of all the merit scholarships in the state. but, had to work like crazy to win the latin prize over one persistent competitor. from dear, arkansas. population 300. because it was one woman who loved that town, and it always loved the history of rome. and taught and the deer, arkansas had a latin governor. and the game of fish commission would give one permit every year to kill a bear. and the condition it was by lottery. the condition to getting the
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bear permit was you had to give half the meat to dear because the romans ate bear meat. and this lady had a cook book from roman times and i went to dear, arkansas to eat it. i thought it was made up. i went to the latin banquet. and the high school gym was covered. only people who can compete with little rock. central high. why am i telling you this? because that's the real meaning of their lives. awe they wanted to do was live their lives and be a part of america. not a part of america. not in control of america. but a part of america. that's what this ought to be about. john louis said on the floor of congress that he was inspired as a young man of 17 by them. and that he had to find a way to get in the wave. so we all fwot to get in the
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wave. this country is by far the best position country in the world. for the 21st century. there's no point in our getting in our own way any longer. but, we have to reject resentment. and anger. in favor of answers. we have to reject polarization and demonization in favor of mutual respect. last night we opened the man dell la exhibit at the library. i never cease to be amazed at the discipline, respect, he showed his political adder adversaries. he put the people who put him in prison 27 years in his government. and told his own people who criticized him and said you got 62% of the vote. against 18 opponents. are you out of your mind?
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putting them -- he said yeah we just voted for the first time in 300 years can we run the banks or the military or anything all by ourselves? it's a question anyone could ask in any place in the america. can people just like you and only like you who only know what you know and think like you think meet any of the challenges we face all by ourselves? the answer is always going to be no. the diverse groups make better decisions than like minded people. and can't bare to think about people they are predisposed not to believe. so we face an emotional question, a dwe of the heart. and a question of the mind. today. do you really believe in the leg se of the little rock nine? are you really grateful? if your a parent or grandparent, can't you imagine how their
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parents felt? the first day they set out? the last memory i have of the 40th reunion believe it or not is not that i was president. i was glad that the most important thing i had to do was hold the door open. so that the world could see the reality of what its symbolic message was. i was afraid i couldn't give a talk. hilary and i had just taken chelsea to college. and had to be run out of the room. the dorm room. she was our only child. and i realized that when i got here, their parents let them come here. terrified. because of the promise that it offered. that i had just taken for
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granted. for my daughter. that's what i remember. are we really going to let more than 200 years of our struggle to get over the idea that our differences are more important than our common humanity just be blown away? you really want to go back to what it was like before world war ii? or the 20s or whatever. i lived through the 50s and 60s. i'm proud of what was done but it wasn't pretty. a lot of people lost their lives. so i ask you to say to them we love you. you taught us that an economics and social policy and politics.
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addition is better than subtraction. and multiplication is better than division. we would have learned it in grade school. if we didn't learn it from them at central high, we will never learn it. [ applause ] >> so, celebrate today. feel like older people. put on your dancing shoes tonight. but tomorrow, i just like john louis you made us get in the wave. we need to get in the wave again. so tomorrow, we need you again. put on your marching boots and we'll get in the wave. god bless you.
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[ applause ] >> poet james welden johnson wrote the text for lift every voice and sing. in 1899. six years later, his brother john johnson said it to music. here to sing it now is the college choir. having this choir sing this song
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is a combination of two organizations which play key roles, 60 years ago. the song has become synonymous with the naacp. before, during and after the 1957 school year. both the naacp and smith college provided a variety of types of support for the little rock nine. ♪
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[ applause ] as we bring the program to a close, let me extend my appreciation to city manager bruce t. more who chaired the steering committee for the commemoration. [ applause ]
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as if supervisoring 2,500 city employees of not enough, he took on the role of leading this planning effort which took well over a year. his leadership and vision have been invaluable. one of the lasting legacies of the little rock nine's efforts is mr. more's son. who celebrates his eleventh birthday today. [ applause ] i wish to also acknowledge the leadership and participation of little rock school district superintendent michael pore. little rock convention and visitors bureau ceo grechen
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hall. as well as robin white. superintendent robin white of the little rock central high school national historic site. over 60 people served on the steering committee and subcommittees. thank you also to each of today's speakers. and program participants. as well as those who took part in the weekends sculpture dedication, education symposium. concert, children of the little rock nine panel. and the interfaith service. and thank you to those in attendance here today. and watching on various media out lets. your participation has been an important part of this commemoration. before pastor edwards lead us in a closing blessing, let us pause for one more moment.
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to show our love and appreciation to the little rock nine. please remain standing for the blessing. >> as the lord has blessed us to be a part of this event, as he's blessed our coming together and what we have received here now. may he bless us now and in our departure. the lord bless thee and keep thee. the lord make his face to shine
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upon thee. and be gracious unto thee. the lord lift up his upon thee and give thee peace. amen. >> amen. >> thank you for joining us here today. we. >> this concludes our -- >> we need all program participants to please remain on the stage. and standing. thank you. >> . >> american history tv. is in prime time all week. right here on c-span 3.
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next time, our look at the 1957 forced desegregation of little rock stal high school continues. friday night from american history tv oral history tv. interviews with prominent photo journalist who documented major events through american history. watch american history tv. this weekend prime time. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> coming up in the morning. ben carson the secretary of housing and urban development testifies at a hearing on capitol hill. we'll have live coverage from the house financial services committee. at 9:30 a.m. eastern time. and over on c-span 2. energy secretary rick perry will testify. at an over sight hearing. at the house energy and commerce committee. that's live at 10 on c-span 2. each week american history tv reel america brings you public affair films from the 20th


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